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Buzzer Hadingham

tennis player
Full name: Reginald Edward Hawke Hadingham
Nickname: Buzzer
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Bio "Buzzer" Hadingham was chairman of the All-England Club from 1984 to 1989.

As always where Wimbledon is concerned, it was a difficult task to accommodate the demands of a rapidly changing sport while preserving the Championships' unique traditions and ethos. But Hadingham could hardly have been better suited to the task.

A man of considerable personal charm and a first-class communicator, he developed an impressive rapport with the players and enjoyed the respect and affection of both his fellow administrators and the media.

His chairmanship coincided with the years in which John McEnroe was at his most difficult, and Hadingham handled the volatile American with a combination of firmness and tact, writing him a letter before one Wimbledon with the instruction to "please keep your cool" - advice which McEnroe, on this occasion, heeded.

One of four sons, Reginald Edward Hawke Hadingham was born on December 6 1915 in Holland. He aquired the nickname "Buzzer" at birth, courtesy of his two-year-old elder sibling who could not persuade his tongue to pronounce "brother". The name stuck because Buzzer could not abide his given name Reginald.

After the war, the family went to live at Wimbledon, where Buzzer was to remain for the rest of his life. Recently, when passing Rokeby, his preparatory school at Wimbledon, with his daughter, Steffie, he remarked: "You know, I was the most important I have ever been when I was there; I was captain of rugby, captain of cricket, head of house."

After Rokeby, he went on to St Paul's, and then immediately followed his father into Slazengers, becoming European sales manager three years later.

Hadingham's career was interrupted by the war, in which he was to serve with distinction. In 1938 he was commissioned into the 67th Anti-Tank Regiment, which was deployed in Iraq, Palestine, Egypt, Libya and North Africa before landing at Salerno on September 9 1943 as part of 56th (London) Infantry Division, 10th Corps.

Two days later a strong infantry tank attack developed south of Battipaglia. Hadingham, then a major in command of 302 Battery, organised the anti-tank defences so successfully that the German thrust was halted. He then led a small force of infantry forward under machine-gun and small arms fire, recapturing most of the lost ground. He was awarded an immediate MC.

In January 1944 the Allies were held up on the Gustav line, and the 10th British Corps had the task of breaking through on a line from the mouth of the Garigliano to Cassino in order to pave the way for the landings at Anzio.

10th Corps began its crossing of the Garigliano on the evening of January 17, and the assault battalions of 56th Division crossed the following day. On January 20 Hadingham was informed that enemy tanks were moving towards the village of Lorenzo; he and his battery sergeant-major moved forward to the village and saw a German tank accompanied by 12 infantrymen coming towards them.

Hadingham grabbed the Bren gun but, when he opened fire on the infantry, it jammed. He withdrew, quickly remedied the fault, and discharged the Bren at the tank's escort; the two men then set up an ambush from the balcony of a nearby house.

When British tanks entered the village, Hadingham ran over to them. He explained that the German tank had stopped, and suggested that they attack at once. He then took command of a group of infantrymen and led a flanking movement to a new fire position behind a stone wall.

When the German tank started to withdraw, his group opened fire, pinning down the escorting infantry and causing heavy casualties among them when they tried to regain the cover of the tank. Hadingham was awarded a Bar to his MC.

In 1945 he took command of the 67th Anti-Tank Regiment until its disbandment in October. He retired from the Army at the end of the year in the rank of major. During the war he had converted to Roman Catholicism.

In January 1946 he returned to Slazengers as assistant export manager, a job in which his fluent French and German was invaluable. He then rose through the company until he was appointed managing director in 1969, and chairman and managing director in 1973; from 1976 to 1983 he was non-executive chairman.

Among Hadingham's interests was writing verse. In the 1980s he published a book, Random Rhymes. to raise money for Sparks (Sport Aiding Medical Research for Kids), a charity to which he was deeply committed - he was its life president, having been chairman from 1968 to 1994.

He would often compose lines for his wife on occasions such as birthdays or anniversaries, and he would write a grace for formal dinners - his favourite was: "No padre? Thank God!"

He enjoyed bridge, and was an enthusiastic tennis player until he was in his eighties.

One legacy of Hadingham's posting during the war to Iraq was an abiding interest in ancient Assyria, about which he wrote a number of learned papers.

This led to his becoming a member, in 1948, of the Sette of Odd Volumes, a private dining and literary club founded in 1878. Members are given nicknames derived from their trade, and Hadingham's was "Racketeer". He had been treasurer of the club since 1953, and, a year before his death, it gave a lunch in his honour at the All England Club.

Buzzer Hadingham was a committee member of the All England Lawn Tennis Club from 1976 to 1984. He had been president of the International Lawn Tennis Club of Great Britain since 1991.

He was appointed OBE in 1971, and CBE in 1988.

In 1940 he married Lois Pope, who survives him with two daughters.

source: The Telegraph
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